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Manticora: Safe

I was one of those that thought the band Manticora would be hard pressed to top their last two releases The Black Circus Pt. 1 and The Black Circus Pt. 2. Boy was I wrong! Maybe it is all the touring with Jon Oliva and Zak Stevens but with the new album Safe Manticora has established themselves as one of the premier European progressive acts. This disc is filled with a plethora of searing metal of epic proportions.

It is easily their most complete work and one that delivers on every aspect. The whole band has turned it up more than a few notches and this blast of power/progressive metal is getting very near what you could call perfection. Vocalist Lars Larsen has never sounded better and the duel guitar attack of Martin Arendal and Kristian Larsen are absolutely astounding as they are finally let loose to wreck havoc on the listener.

"In The Abyss Of Desperation" starts you on this amazing metal journey that is such a great combination of soaring epic and melodic music it may overwhelm you the first time you hear it. Always having a heavy backdrop the band takes off with some of the most tantalizing work I have heard this year. They are not afraid to draw from whatever genre they want and that gives this album a "no boundaries" type of feel. From epic power metal, to heady progressive, they throw everything at you. I even heard a little death metal growl and a hint of keyboard. The beginning of "Silence Of Freedom has an 80's bluesy heavy metal feel before they turn you on your ear with the many twist and turns of this song alone.

Masterful guitar work is a highlight throughout the album with the solo in the song "Complete" being just one example along with the grandiose intro to "From The Pain Of Loss (I Learned About The Truth) being another where the pair of six sting slingers show just how much of a force they can be. This is just two stand out moments of many that are on this disc. This is by far the best I have ever heard them and even if it took seven albums to get here it was worth the wait.

The album ends with the 14 minute title track "Safe (A Miracle/Fading/The End)". Encompassing everything that makes this band so good, this song takes you from one end of the spectrum to the other in the Manticora songbook. It is simply one of the most vivid pieces of music to hit the ears. This is an epic work that should put Manticora at the top of the musical heap. While they have proved to be one of the very good bands out there, this one shows the maturity, dedication to their art and the willingness to explore new territory that culminates in one of the best albums I have heard period. It is easily one that needs to be in any progressive metalhead's collection. It doesn't get much better than this!

Track listing:

1. In The Abyss Of Depression
2. Silence The Freedom
3. Complete
4. From The Pain Of Loss (I Learned About The Truth)
5. A Lake That Drained
6. Carrion Eater
7. Safe (A Miracle/Fading/The End)

Added: December 13th 2010
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 4233
Language: english

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Manticora: Safe
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-12-13 04:45:40
My Score:

Sometimes, a band plows along with a steady career, releasing very solid albums one after another but always seeming to come up short when looking for that 'home run' so to speak. Such has been the case with power/progressive metal act Manticora, who have been one of the more consistent bands on the scene for years, but are still waiting for that breakthrough release that takes them to the next level. Well, Safe just might be that release for them.

The Danish band are firing on all cylinders here on Safe. First thing you notice right off the bat are the HUGE guitar riffs that permeate this entire CD. I guess when you work with Tommy Hansen, you have to expect quality production, and Manticora certainly got the biggest bang for their buck from Hansen, who has worked with countless metal acts over the years. Kristian Larsen & Martin Arendal have put together some super crunchy and highly inventive riffs here on Safe, which you can hear in all their glory on "Silence the Freedom", "In the Abyss of Desperation", and "Complete". Thick, galloping, and at times slightly technical, these two have upped their game here and the results are taking Manticora to another level. Lead singer Lars Larsen once again shows why he's one of the most underrated vocalists in metal, as his high pitched wailing soars to the heavens and does battle with boatloads of wicked harmony lines from the two guitar masters on " A Lake That Drained". He mixes it up on the crushing "Carrion Eaters", delivering a stunning mid range as well as histrionic screams, and also cranking up the melody for some delicious backing vocals on the chorus. The 14-minute title track sees the band laying down their progressive metal chops, so expect plenty of jaw dropping complex passages amidst the pulverizing metal attack. Great sense of pacing on this cut too, as well as some thought provoking lyrics. Kudos also to the rhythm section of drummer Mads Volf and bassist Kasper Gram, who deliver the goods in a big way on this prog-metal juggernaut of a track.

Honestly, this is one hell of an album from Manticora, and other than the drab and disappointing album cover art (we've come to expect more from this band in that respect) this is as perfect a metal release as you are going to get. Great riffs, great vocals, memorable songs, and the perfect balance between power metal, progressive metal, and classic metal. Can't go wrong with that can you?

Manticora have arrived!

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